tv [untitled] March 17, 2012 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT
than the kind of goods they could import from great britain. but by wearing this homespun cloth, women were visibly and physically displaying their political sentiments. >> sunday night at 9:00, george mason university professor rose marie zagari on the role of women in the revolutionary war. i was quite a radical as a young person, and i was the one that thought, you know, singing "we should overcome" was not a respectful way of gaining civil rights and i think i thought that more confrontation was needed. >> economics professor, columnist, and substitute host for rush limbaugh, walter williams on being a radical. >> i believe that a radical is any person who believes in personal liberty and individual freedom and limited government.
that makes you a radical. and i've always been a person who believes that people should not interfere with me. i should be able to do my own thing without violating the rights of other people. >> on c-span's "q &a." up next, a group of world war ii veterans discuss how they grew as leaders during the war and reflect on the national character change as part of the 2012 national character and leadership symposium. this lasts about an hour. good morning. please be seated, gentlemen. on behalf of the united states air force academy center for oral history, it is a privilege to partner with the center of leadership and development to serve as a moderator for this year's panel, world war ii
veterans for the 2012 national character and leadership symposium. established in the summer of 2010, the air force academy center for oral history is dedicated to the notion that we preserve yesterday for tomorrow's profession of arms. consequently, it is only appropriate to be here with these distinguished veterans today. during the course of world war ii, some 16 million american soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines served in both europe and the pacific. of those, some 400,000 never returned. we are privileged today to have three veterans with us. join me again in welcoming them. the format of today's panel, we will have approximately 30 minutes where i will ask questions to the panel and we'll turn it over to the audience toward the end. first question i'll ask to each one of the gentlemen.
we'll start with mr. yellin and finally mr. wood. what was the greatest leadership challenge you personally faced during world war ii? >> i was 17 on pearl harbor day, turned 18 on february 15th, 1942. and my whole military career, there was but one purpose, purity of purpose, serve my country. and the four years i served were probably the best years of my life because the pure purpose of my life was to kill my enemy. and that is what i did, what i trained to do, that's what i did. does that answer your question, bob?
>> well, i have the privilege -- excuse me. of serving my country during world war ii, flying a b-17. the b-17 that i flew bombs. it weighed 67,000 pounds. later on i flew, much later i flew the b-52 and the b-52 out of the same conditions only instead of carrying 10 500 bombs, i was carrying 90 100 bombs and it weighed over 4,000 pounds, it was quite a difference between the two airplanes. but i did -- i had the privilege
of flying both of them. i was asked to talk a little bit about a typical b-17 world war ii bomb mission. and then i'll go through it here very briefly. we had normally what we did and we had an alert the night before we were going to fly a mission. we'd be alerted and say, hey, you'll be flying a mission tomorrow. and so that meant i would go to bed early because an early wake-up call. seems like we always were waking up at 4:00 in the morning and then we'd go and have a quick breakfast and then go and pre-flight the aircraft making sure it was ready to go. before we would actually take off. there was a sequence to taxing
for takeoff. so when the time came for you to follow the line and taxi out to the runway while you got in line for your particular takeoff interval that we took off intervals, which meant there was a lot of -- usually a lot on the runway so you had to be very careful to maintain control of the airplane with that prop wash you were getting into. by the end of '44, we were able to put out three bombers streams of 12 squadrons each. and so it turned out quite a massive attack. we would -- we had fighters going with us to protect us against the enemy fighters.
and we found on the actual penetration of enemy territory we had to go through antiaircraft fire and also fighter attacks, the b-51s did a good job, however, of holding off the enemy fighters. we had a very important improvement in technology. there was a bombsight that was newly developed. and it was very good. and it was very accurate. and it was an expensive one. the highest squadron, the lead, also had the north bombsight. and it was very good because the bomb apparently would synchronize the rate of travel forward and any tendency of side
wind blowing, we'd put the cross arrow down and remain on the target and that way it was automatically accommodated. and the timer release and so forth were all calculated. so it was automatic as the lead shift when the bombs would actually leave the aircraft. and then the other aircraft that are in the group both lead squadron, high squadron, 18 bombers, when they saw the lead shift bombs drop out of the bombay, then the bombers on the other craft hit the release switch. and so the bombs went out immediately after the lead shift. it was meant that there was hundreds of bombs that would land in the target area.
back in those days, our circuit aerial probability was under 1,000 or 1,500 feet. in other words, we could miss the target by that much. but when you had a formation and all those bombs went down, clearly some of the bombs would hit on the target aiming point. i want to make a little comment. the british prime minister certainly was concerned about the american bombers, and he was concerned about the b-17s group flying daylight missions because they would be subjected to more hostile fire and so forth. well, the general who was in
charge of our particular operation, the american general turned to him and said think about it this way. he says the bomb tonight and the american air force bombs in the daylight, but the germans are subjected to bombing around the clock. he said well, that's great. he was delighted thinking about that. after the mission was over, we would return to home base and go in for a de-briefing and what not. one of the nice figures was you not only got a cup of coffee, but if you wanted a shot of whiskey, you could get that, as well. so we had a chance to enjoy that sort of thing.
we, of course were very delighted with the world war ii ended so that we could all pack up and go back home, which i was able to do in june of 1945. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you for the opportunity to tell you about my background. >> there'll be more. mr. woods, question for you. 67 years ago today. >> yeah. >> you went ashore on iwo jima. you were there for another seven days, correct? 11 days, excuse me. over the course of those 11 days, what was the greatest challenge you face? you went ashore as a private first class. tell us what happened over the course of the next few days. >> well, i guess first thing i can say was i was scared witless. when i landed on iwo, it was
d-day plus four, and it was the day they raised the flag. and at that time we were in our landing craft coming up the shore from the mother ship, troop ship that we coursed the pacific on. and when we landed as the regim regiment strength, we had to work up the island to get to the front line. they assigned us to the middle of the line and the fourth and fifth divisions were on our flanks. we at that time were in the process of digging everybody out of their holes, caves, embankments, and any imaginable defense that the enemy could put before us. there was cave by cave, pill box by pill box, spider hole by spider hole.
and if we did 100 yards in one day, we considered that a very successful day. some days we couldn't move at all. but on "d" plus six or seven, one of our corporals got shot and i was a fire team leader, that's four men, bazooka men, demolitions, flame thrower, and helping men with automatic rifles trying to cover them. and when he was wounded and died, i had a couple of replacements in our squad, and they looked kind of confused because they weren't too, well, what should i say? familiar with what was going on. and i said, well, come on, let's do this. so i became the squad leader. and that's how i made corporal.
and then we continued up the island and it's day-by-day, fight-by-fight. and upon day 11, we were moving up in the rain wash and the sniper got me or somebody -- some other man shot me. right through the left chest and i immediately fell and minutes later a corpsman came up and put me on a stretcher and took me back to an aid station which was on the beach. and the beach really wasn't a safe place to be. 22 doctors and over 250 navy corpsman with pills while they were taking care of the wounded. so they put me on the beach and i was bleeding internally and they started aspirating me with 20 cc needles, giving me a shot in the arm with it, but they were doing it the other way, putting it in closed, opening up and squirting the blood on the
floor. and they took out almost a liter of blood i had lost that was in my belly cavity and then put me on a stretcher, took me to the beach and they put me aboard a p.c., a patrol craft. a very small craft and it was leaving almost immediately to go back to guam. i really wasn't wounded enough to rate a hospital ship because i was stable and they had a corpsman on the ship and two days later i landed in guam at the hospital, stayed there for a couple of weeks and they flew me to hawaii and i stayed in the hospital there. then i did my duty for the -- sent me back to my division in a different regiment and i went on occupation on an island in the same island group, but this one,
i guess, was made famous by george bush sr. he was ditched out of the water -- pulled out by a rescue helicopter. a rescue boat. and he became -- the president w was. and after i got back in the division i said i went on occupation and after that i went back to the states and i spent the rest of my enlistment in the navy yard, which is pretty close to home and it was very nice. so i have not much more to say. except that people that we lost, marines that we lost on iwo was 6,491 dead and over 7,000 wounded. of course for the marine corps
was a balance of the airmen that we saved by landing their 29s on the airstrip at iwo. it was like a 16 or 18-hour round trip from where they took off to japan and back. so a lot of them had malfunctions or problems or other things or severely wounded men and they'd land on iwo and take care, get fixed up and proceed back home. so the time that this was happening, i said, well, they're saving all these guys, we're killing ourselves. in the long run, after i became a little more mature, i was 18 when all this happened, i realized that for the better good it was what we did and what we lost was compensated for. so thank you very much and i'm just happy to be here.
>> my next question is for mr. yellin. you said your time during world war ii was some of the best years of your life. although mr. yellin, as you were relating earlier back in the green room, you almost didn't make it. what was the ethical challenge that was in your way and how did you overcome that? >> you needed two years of college to be accepted as an aviation cadet in 1942. i was just out of high school, but on december 8th or 9th or 10th, i went to the army recruiting station and i got all the papers and on my 18th birthday, i had my parents sign them and i turned them in and i was an aviation cadet in waiting. and you needed to pass a physical and mental exam. so i went to the armory in newark, new jersey, and i passed
the mental exam and flunked the physical exam. i had 20/30 vision in one eye. the doctor told me to go home and stood in a darkroom, don't read anything, eat a lot of carrots and come back in three days and take the exam again. the unethical part of my life at that moment, the purity of purpose that i had was i wanted to join the military, i wanted to fly fighter planes against the japanese, so i asked me mother to bring home the eye chart. she works at a draft board. she brought home the eye chart and i memorized the chart and i passed the exam and i was inducted into the military. i was the class of '43 h, and i had ten hours and i was going to graduate at the 30th of august
and two weeks before graduation, we had to take a physical, they called it number 64, and i flunked the eye test because they changed the chart. and it was a major lee, he said, well, you've gone so far, we'll let you graduate, we're going to put you in transports. and i said i'm not a transport pilot, sir, i'm a fighter pilot. i've already flown 10 hours safely. and he said, well, if i have anything to say about it you'll fly transports. and i said how do i get to see him, sir? ask me and i'll go through the chain. so i said, sir, i'd like to see the commandant and cadets cand the next thing you know i'm sitting in front of a 12-foot chicken colonel and he said what can i do for you, cadet yellin. i said, sir, they want to wash
me out and put me in transports. i'm a fighter pilot. he said you really are. anybody who has the guts to see me is a fighter pilot so i graduated with my class and went on to fly b-51s in combat. was it ethical? it was my purpose in life at the time. so i feel it was perfectly ethical. >> general, question for you. in relating the typical mission for a bomber crew, really only one individual has control of the aircraft pilot, and there are other men in that plane who depend on that pilot but at the same time they have no other place to go other than to remain in that plane. in that type of a fatalistic environment, how do you maintain the morale of the rest of the crew? >> well, the important thing was
to have a positive attitude about the operations and when you -- we always had a debriefing on the mission. and there was a stage with a curtain across it like that, and behind that curtain was a map of england and the western part of europe. and we would have a mission briefer who would stand up and brief the mission. and the magic moment would come when he would draw aside that curtain and on the map would be shown a red string, which went across and showed the route in
to the target and a great big "x" where the target was. and there was a lighter color of ribbon which came back and showed the return areas. and believe me when he pulled aside that curtain and it showed a target deep in germany. you'd hear people not only to fly the mission but deep into germany which meant there were a lot of extra hazards and your chances of being shot down were increased quite a bit if you had to go to one of these targets. so that was -- that was always a heart rendering moment. and then, of course, after you had the briefing, then you had
those moments of going out and then having to sit and wait for the planes to take off and what it was they would fire a flare from the control tower. which indicated you should tax for takeoff. it was always a rather -- on the one hand, you were highly trained and on the other hand, you recognize that the chances are that your particular airplane might be shot down. certainly a very interesting possibility. so we had an emotional highs and lows dependent upon our own attitude and what not. i think that the fact that we had a great training program by
the time we got overseas. we were very well trained. ready to go ahead and fly the combat missions. in those days, once you got in 25 missions, then you would compete in your tour and we always then had a celebration for the individual who had completed 25 missions that weren't all that many, by the way. and then we would have a celebration and then they would be able to get on an airplane and go back to the united states. and i had the pleasure of doing that in june of '45. when the war was in europe was over. it was in may of '45.
but then we were rejoining the states and with the understanding that we would then somewhat be deployed to the pacific to fight the war against the japanese. then, of course president truman approved dropping of a time bomb on hiroshima. and that, of course, ended the war. we never did have to deploy to the pacific and fly that mission. >> well, sir, you bring up the dropping of the atomic bomb. certainly that -- >> i'm sorry? >> you bring up the dropping of the atomic bomb and certainly all you gentlemen could reflect on that. what is your opinion on the decision to drop the atomic bomb? certainly something controversial today. was it as controversial in 1945? >> it took a lot of courage on
the part of president truman to go ahead. because he recognized there was a good chance once that bomb was dropped that the japanese would surrender and that's what happened. so as it turned out, he made a gutsy decision and turned out to be a good decision. and the war was over. >> do you want to comment, as well? >> i was over japan on august 6th, 1945, and when i got back to iwo jima, he jumped on my wing and said we dropped one bomb and wiped out a city and it's over. i said what are you smoking? i want some. i've been asked that question many times. in 1988, my youngest son married the daughter of a japanese imperial air force fighter pilot. and i've been to japan many times.
i had been a debriefing about bombing japan or invading japan which was going to start in november of 1945. our squadron was going to land, be the first squadron in. they expected 1 million casualties. the americans expected 1 million casualties. our intelligence told us that they had 2,000 airplanes and that they were going to do kamikaze flights. but intelligence after the war said they had 12,000 airplanes and their plans, the japanese plans were to send 300 planes an hour against the invading forces. for me, there was no difference between 1,000 bombers flying over japan and dropping their tonnage or one bomber flying over and dropping the equivalent. we were at war, they were our enemies, our pure purpose was to kill them as fast and as quick
as we could. so that they would surrender, and it never bothered me. when i escorted b-29s for the first time on april 7th, 1945, the first land-based mission ever flown over japan, i watched little fires become big fires and square miles of tokyo was burning not once did i think there were human beings on the ground. that's the way i felt. i don't feel that way now. i have three japanese grandchildren. but i felt that then and i felt the atomic bomb if it saved one life and it saved a lot more, it was worth doing. and we did the right thing. it was war. >> mr. woods, do you have anything you'd like to add? >> yes. i was in the third marine